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Love What You Do and Who You Do It With

Why it really is possible to have a job you love at a company you care about.

By Shay Hughes

As COO of a company that spends a great deal of time talking about, investing in and promoting our tight-knit culture, one of my biggest fears is to have people on our team that aren’t happy. It’s like being a hostess of a party and wanting to make sure that the guests have a great time. Except in this case it isn’t a party, it’s a job they do Monday through Friday, all year long. Some might call me crazy for even thinking this is an achievable goal, and whether they are right or not, it still remains one of my top concerns. That is, I want everyone on our team to love what they do and who they do it with.

Is it realistic for everyone to love being a part of our company, love contributing to the betterment of the team, and love the people they work with? I believe so, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Here’s a look at how it can be done.

Treat your job as more than a means to an end.

As the person who does almost all of our company’s hiring, I often tell people I interview that this is their life and they only get one shot at it, so please make sure this is something they are going to enjoy doing. If it’s not, I’d love to help them figure out what would make them happy and point them in the right direction, and sometimes even make an introduction for them if I can. But whatever they do, I ask them to please not join our team just because they need a job!

We only want people to join our team because they connect with what we’re about on a deep and personal level. Because they think they are really going to like the people they work with. Because they want to be a part of something that is meaningful, where they can pursue things that are worthy of the hard work required to achieve them. Because they can’t imagine working at a “regular” job where people view it as a means to an end, rather than an important piece of their life.

Follow your instincts.

When I first rejoined the workforce after raising our three (now adult) children, I was uncertain about how my views of what a company should look like would be received. I talk about work in a way that is more personal than it is professional, and I use the word love much more than is usual in a corporate setting. It was uncomfortable at first, especially because there were very few women in our company when I started, and the men certainly weren’t talking about love in the context of work.

It didn’t take long, however, for me to gain the reassurance I needed to fully embrace my mantra of loving what you do and who you do it with. I first noticed it during a conversation I had with a wife of one of our executives, who came up to me after our very first company retreat (now a highly anticipated annual event). She held my hand and told me that I brought a maternal instinct to the company that was transformative. It was a short, sweet and profound sentiment, and I am forever grateful for it. In a moment, I realized that my mothering instincts were a strength that I brought to the team, not a detriment that I needed to shed or disguise.

Trust your values.

A few months later, still in our first year as a company, I got another sign that I was on the right track. We were still fairly small – only twenty people strong – but I thought it was important to somehow solidify what we stood for. Almost on a whim, we put to paper our ten core values – the things we valued most as people, as a company, and as a family. In hindsight, this was one of the most important things we have ever done as a company, and the results were staggering.

Our entire team was united on what was most important to us — almost word for word in many cases — and, out of those shared ideas, our core values were born effortlessly. They have become a guiding force in everything we do: how we treat each other, how we take care of our clients, and how we live our lives. By embracing our core values as people, and aligning them with the values of the company we choose to work for, it is inevitable that we will love what we do and who we do it with.

Know that every job has challenges.

Lastly, it’s important to recognize that, even if your job isn’t always a bed of roses, we all still have the opportunity to love the job that we do. Every job in every company, even if you are the CEO, requires some work that isn’t necessarily fun, stimulating or exciting. However I’m a big believer that busy people are the happiest, and anyone who has a job is fortunate to have the opportunity to be productive and find a sense of accomplishment.

The fact is all of us have the opportunity to love what we do. By focusing on helping others, whether it’s our teammates, our clients, or our families, it feels good to be busy and be part of a team with a shared mission.

All I can hope and strive for is that our team members feel like I do – that they can’t imagine working anywhere else.

Shay Hughes is president, COO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices across the nation. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-662-6635 or shay.hughes@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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